If there is one dish that is my Madeleine this is it. It takes me back to my childhood. It is my comfort food and, by extension, that of my children.
1 large tomato
1 large jalapeño chile (or use 1 canned chipotle chile em adobo)
1 small onion, coarsely chopped
1 large garlic clove
6 sprigs of cilantro
1/4 cup vegetable oil
1 7 ounce package fideo or small shaped pasta such as melon seeds or alphabet
2 cups chicken stock or water
Heat a heavy ungreased griddle or cast-iron skillet over medium-low heat until a drop of water sizzles on contact. Place the tomato and jalapeño and cook, turning frequently, until the skin of the tomato and chile is blackened and blistered all over, about 15 minutes. Remove the tomato into a bowl to hold the juices. Place the chile in a small plastic or paper bag; let rest 10 minutes. When they are cool enough to handle, peel off the charred skin. If some tiny blackened bits remain, they will just add to the flavor. Be sure to save all the delicious juices. Place tomato, onion, garlic, cilantro and jalapeño chile in the blender or food processor and process until almost smooth, about 1 minute. Reserve.
Place the oil in a small Dutch oven or medium saucepan; heat over medium-high heat until rippling . Add the pasta and cook, stirring constantly, until golden. Remove all but 2 tablespoons of the oil. Add puréed tomato mixture and cook, stirring often, for 2 minutes. Reduce heat to low; add chicken stock and bring to a simmer. Cover Dutch oven and cook for 20 minutes or until the liquid is absorbed.
Serve with shredded parmesan cheese and pico de gallo salsa if desired.